Anyone reading a website dedicated to health and fitness, has undoubtedly heard a lot about “balance.”
Having good physical “balance” will improve your performance at any sport. You need to eat a “balanced” diet, “balance” your work life with your home life, “balance” your workouts, “balance” your body with your mind, and even “balance” your budget!
But what is balance really? What does it mean to be “balanced, or live a “balanced life?”
The answer is elusive, and different for each of us, but what is certain is that we all know what it is like to feel “off” and out of synch. Another way to understand balance is equilibrium. Our bodies try very hard to maintain equilibrium.
Physiologically it is called homeostasis. If we are cold we shiver, when we are too hot, we sweat to return to optimal temperature, or “equilibrium.” We live in an environment that constantly changes. As human beings, our bodies are very good at adapting to those changes, and returning to that state of homeostasis, or equilibrium.
Living a life in balance really means finding ways to deal with the constant changes all around us that are disrupting our physical, emotional, and spiritual equilibrium.
While balance can and does mean different things to different people, here are Ten Ways to help anybody, or any body, maintain and achieve balance in a chaotic world.
- Get Fit, Stay Fit – It is impossible to be balanced in any way without starting with a healthy lifestyle. What makes for overall wellness and living healthy for one, may differ for another, but regular readers of these pages should know “the basics” by now. Eat right, and include some kind of exercise every week. Don’t smoke, don’t drink to excess, get enough sleep, drink clean water, and get out in the fresh air, and you will be building a strong enough base to help keep the scales in balance.
- Learn to Manage Your Time – The “work-life balance” is one of the hardest to achieve, and puts stress on most of us. You can improve your work-life balance by allocating time efficiently. Delegate when you can. Do not be afraid to say “no,” when you are maxed out work-wise, or with social commitments. Learn to prioritize your work assignments and leisure activities. Explore “work/life” options with your employer such as flextime and telecommuting.
- Take Control of the Tech – Take control of your technology, instead of letting it control you. Technology is supposed to be used to make your life easier, not more stressful. Put the phone down, and create some “screen-free” time every week so you can focus on your friends or family.
- Lose the Guilt – It is OK to be passionate about everything you do. It is OK to want it all. But, you need to understand that Superman and Wonder Woman, are fictional characters. No one can do it all. Real people just cannot be everywhere to everybody, 100% of the time. So, stop feeling guilty if you have to miss an occasional “date night” with your spouse, or decline an extra assignment at work.
- Me Time – Make time for yourself. You are entitled to a break when you need one. Make time to watch TV, read a book, take a walk, or anything that you personally enjoy. Be creative, find a hobby, try your hand at painting, photography, etc. You can’t be in balance if you do not feed your inner muse.
- Connect With People – While “me time” is important, so is the time you spend with others. Take the time to really connect with people in the real world. Social networking is fine, and a great way to stay in touch with people. But, you also need to have a support system of real friends or family you can count on in a crisis. It also helps keep you balanced and feeling good about yourself, if you know there are others out there that count on you as well. Always be sure to let the people you care about, know that you care about them.
- Simplify – There is a lot to be said for achieving balance by simplifying and “downsizing.” Take a good look at your life. What are your excesses? What can you get rid of to make things easier, and less complicated.
- Be Grateful – Count your blessings. Focus on the things that you have, instead of the things that you do not have! Each day take the time to write down at least three things that you are thankful for, and you will probably be surprised at how blessed you really are!
- Live in the Now – Start living IN the moment, instead of FOR the moment. There is no other time like “right now.” Embrace it for its uniqueness. Do not compare the present with the past. Learn to silence your inner dialogs, and be mindful of the world around you.
- Be Kind and Loving – As John Lennon so eloquently sang, “All You Need is Love.” But he didn’t only mean the romantic kind. He meant simple acts of love, kindness and compassion are needed to balance all of the negativity we face in today’s world. So hug a child, pet a dog, or scratch a cat. Help someone to the car with their groceries the next time you go shopping. Smile more – be the light you would like to see in the world.
Always remember that finding a sense of balance and equilibrium means understanding that things change constantly. If there is an ultimate truth about balance, it is that it is an ongoing process. You will never be able to say, “There, that’s it, today I am balanced and my work is done here!”
The only constant in the world is that change is constant. Balance requires ongoing adjustment, like trying to keep a canoe dead center on a river. You need to go with the flow when you can, but you also have to keep both oars in the water, and paddle a little left, or right – to avoid the rocks and rough spots ahead!